On Tuesday, James Heath Elrod, III, was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole, according to Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young.
“The defendant brutally executed Ronald Hostetler, Jr. and Cassie Head by shooting them both in the forehead,” said Young. “After killing them, he concealed their bodies in Hostetler’s house, then stole a car and fled to Oklahoma.”
The bodies were discovered several days later when friends and family members became concerned and went to the house to check on Hostetler.
The jury heard testimony from the friend who discovered the first body and Texas Ranger Stacy McNeal, who investigated the case. They were also presented with expert testimony from a medical examiner, who determined that the two were killed by gunshot wounds. The medical examiner described how the injuries indicated contact wounds, where the gun was pressed directly against the head.
“The defendant took the stand and tried to convince the jury that he was trying to protect his wife,” said First Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Kaminar. “However, he admitted that he first knocked out both victims, then retrieved a .22 rifle and shot them both in the head while they were unconscious.”
The jury deliberated for under twenty minutes before returning a guilty verdict. Because the State did not seek the death penalty, Elrod received an automatic sentence of life without parole.
“Today, our citizens held James Elrod accountable for his brutal double-murder,” Young said. “Even though he will spend the rest of his life in prison, nothing can bring back the two lives he stole.”
The case was tried in the 6th District Court before Judge Wes Tidwell. Gary Young and Benjamin Kaminar prosecuted the case on behalf of the State. Elrod was represented by Paul Rosemergy.